Project details

QCCSRC Subproject 1.5: Impact of mechanical stratigraphy and stylolite formation on the reservoir properties of the carapace of a salt dome, Jebel Madar, Oman

This project is an integral part of the Qatar Carbonates and Carbon Storage Research Centre (QCCSRC), and is financed by Qatar Petroleum, Shell, and the Qatar Science and Technology Park. 

Salt domes form when the naturally buoyant salt in the subsurface starts to rise to the surface. Often, this salt movement occurs along major detachment faults,  and thus regional tectonic and the geometry of pre-existing sedimentary basin plays a major role in determining the emplacement and geometry of salt domes.

In the subsurface, salt domes can be excellent reservoirs. When the sediment cover above the evaporite layer is a carbonate rock, such as is the case in the Middle East, fracture carbonate reservoirs can be found.

Our project focuses on Jebel Madar, a salt dome with a carbonate carapace at the foothills of the Oman Mountains. We investigate the mechanical stratigraphy of the Jebel, in order words, we are interested in how rocks fracture in different places along the salt dome. First order questions are whether mechanical units will mimic stratigraphic units, and what control does the rock facies and subsequent diagenesis exert on mechanical properties of the rocks. 

At the same time, we are interested in the inter-relationship between the fracture network, representing brittle deformation, and pressure-solution features associated with sediment burial (stylolites). Hence, we plan on investigating the processes of stylolitization, where stylolites occur compared to mechanical and stratigraphic units, and the lateral extent and connectivity of stylolites in the Jebel. This fundamental knowledge is useful in populating subsurface model of similar salt domes, and there helps in reducing the uncertainties in subsurface predictions.

The project forms the basis for Ms Manuela Stehle's PhD thesis. This project is led by Prof John Cosgrove, a structural geologist at Imperial College London, and Dr C├ędric John provides expertise on sedimentology and diagenesis.

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